two cookies hurts brain function

‘Stop It, Science:’ Colbert Tackles Study on Cookies, Brain Function

By Phil Gutis | August 4th, 2022

When research dropped at this year’s AAIC about the relationship between junk food consumption and brain health, late-night show host Stephen Colbert had a bone to pick. Phil Gutis reports.

SAN DIEGO – In my journal from the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference earlier this week, I noted new research about highly processed foods and their impact on brain health

The study found that people who consume the highest amount of ultra-processed foods — foods that are mostly or all artificial ingredients — have a 28 percent faster decline in global cognitive scores – including memory, verbal fluency, and executive function, compared to people who didn’t consume quite so much junk food.

“What are those ultra-processed foods,” I wrote. “Well, they are the ones that contain large quantities of fats, sugar, salt, artificial flavors/colors and preservatives. In other words, all the good stuff:  sodas, breakfast cereals, white bread, potato chips, and frozen foods, such as lasagna, pizza, ice cream, hamburgers, and fries.”

I ended my journal by noting that I was going to grab a Diet Coke and a muffin to give myself a mid-morning energy boost before diving into the rest of the conference.

I’m delighted to report that Stephen Colbert picked up on my reporting – okay, okay, maybe he was actually alerted to the story by a report in USA Today about the research. In his show last night, Colbert had more than a bit of fun with the research.

He took particular aim at the finding that just 100 calories of processed foods can affect your physical health, according to Rafael Perez-Escamilla, a professor of public health at Yale University and author of the study. 

Just 100 calories of processed foods
can affect your physical health. “So that’s two cookies,”
Perez-Escamilla told the paper.

“So that’s two cookies,” Perez-Escamilla told the paper.

That cookie stat set Colbert off. 

“Here’s some facts for you, science,” Colbert said. “If you want us to live a long time, you’ve got to understand something. We’re all just living to get to the next cookie.”

Watching the segment with a bunch of staff from the Alzheimer’s Association in the press room and sharing in the laughter, I was reminded of something very important. Although the topic we write about and work on is deadly serious, humor can sometimes be the best medicine.  

Phil Gutis is a former New York Times reporter and current Being Patient contributor who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. This article is part of his Phil’s Journal series, chronicling his experience living with Alzheimer’s and his participation in the aducanumab clinical trial.

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